In Conversation with Ariel Adkins: Merging Fashion, Fantasy, and Art History on Artfully Awear
Ariel Adkins is one of my favorite art world influencers, period. Her hyper-fantastical and stylish website Artfully Awear , which she founded back in 2010, fashion and art meet in the most visually fascinating ways. Her life is fully immersed in the arts, whether helming her arts & culture role in the tech world or creating optically-pleasing DIY garments that seem to pop off her Instagram account. Adkins treks the globe visiting world class museums and international art fairs, producing vibrant and thoughtful mini fashion editorials on her site. I catch up with Ariel to talk about the impact of her passion project and the exciting new directions Artfully Awear is headed.
Gallery Gurls: Congrats on Artfully Awear going 7 years strong! What do you think has been your biggest accomplishment with Artfully Awear so far?
Ariel Adkins: Thank you! When I started Artfully Awear seven years ago, I had recently lost my mother to cancer. Her creativity was my biggest inspiration, and dressing up like artwork, and ultimately making my own art-inspired garments, became a means of recording her influence in my life; a project that helped me to channel my grief into colorful expression. Over the years, the project has come into its own and is no longer only about her, or me, but is also about each person who has been inspired to create their own art-to-wear and to engage with art in this way. I hope I continue to inspire others to create wearable art!
I really love the intersection where art and fashion meet on your site. There are such deep histories in both elements, talk to me about your passion for merging the two.
I’ve always been so interested in the way the art is made: the actual process and creative choices an artist makes to achieve the final product. I also have a never-ending fascination and emotional connection with colors and patterns. Clothing, and what we wear, is about how we want the world to perceive us, and is an artistic choice that we make every day. I like sharing the message that you can curate your style by using art as inspiration.
"I also have a never-ending fascination and emotional connection with colors and patterns. Clothing, and what we wear, is about how we want the world to perceive us, and is an artistic choice that we make every day."
So you started from pairing cool vintage finds with art to actually creating custom DIY wearable pieces. Can you expand on that transition?
After a few years of hunting down art-inspired garments, I became really frustrated with what I could find within my price range. The first piece I made myself was a stenciled dress inspired by the work of Christopher Wool. From there, I slowly began to make more and more of my own pieces, and now it seems much easier (and more fun!) to do it myself, rather than shop around.
I agree that your brand/blog Artfully Awear is a lifestyle, and you're now speaking at panels and holding workshops. How do you see it growing beyond the site?
I want to continue to develop the educational aspect of Artfully Awear, and encourage others to make their own art-inspired garments. I’m leading a graffiti-inspired workshop in the fall specifically geared toward Alzheimer’s patients, with the goal of accessing and challenging different parts of the brain, memory, and inspiration. I'm excited to reach a new audience with the Artfully Awear message. There are also many mediums, time periods, and genres I’ve yet to explore, and I look forward to expanding my techniques of creating garments. I am also working on a production line of clothing along with visual artists to make the work and the clothes available more widely.
As a woman in the art world, what does intersectional feminism mean to you and why is it important?
Whereas the canon of Art History (and unfortunately the art world, still today) is seen as primarily white and male, I try to highlight the diversity that exists in the field through my work. To me, intersectional feminism means going beyond #5WomenArtists (a hashtag that aims to raise awareness for the work of female artists) and extending appreciation to art from a diverse array of cultures, by artists of all genders. Through my work, I attempt to highlight artists, both male and female, from sundry backgrounds and persuasions (examples are my work inspired by contemporary Burkinabé architect Francis Kéré and the late indigenous Australian artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye). As a student of Art History, I still have a lot of work to do to expand to a more global understanding of art, but I’ve long held the belief that inspiration can come from anywhere, whether it’s classified as fine art or not.
"Whereas the canon of Art History (and unfortunately the art world, still today) is seen as primarily white and male, I try to highlight the diversit"y that exists in the field through my work."
Follow Ariel Adkins on Instagram: @artfullyawear